Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

The Inside Straight

by CP The Inside Straight Authors |  Published: Sep 27, 2006

The Cold Hard Facts – Leyser v. Gold $6 Million Lawsuit

Harrah's Restrained From Awarding World Series of Poker Championship Winnings

By Lisa Wheeler

After receiving an inside tip from an informant within the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning, Aug. 22, a local newspaper reported that a lawsuit was on file in Clark County District Court, with a claim against 2006 World Series of Poker Champion Jamie Gold.

Later that day, the story exploded and was picked up by almost every news medium across the U.S. and Great Britain. Rumors were rampant, and blogs and forums were littered with assumptions and second-hand accounts. Every poker community and group was busy sharing various theories and analysis.

Here are the facts of Leyser v. Gold, taken straight from the lawsuit recently filed in Las Vegas.

The Plaintiff

Represented by Chesnoff & Shonfeld is Bruce Crispin Leyser, a former UK executive television producer who was drawn to Los Angeles in pursuit of sunshine, fame, and fortune. His focus was quickly diverted to another lifelong pursuit – gambling. After four years, Leyser had achieved moderate success. Then over the course of two weeks following the WSOP, he rose from being the subject of gossip to world fame – while possibly acquiring a fortune.

The Defendant

Sam Isreal will represent 2006 World Series of Poker Champion Jamie Gold. After dominating the action from day four to the final hand of the main event, this man has garnered the lion's share of press coverage by local, national, and international news media. Gold's name, title, and image are also splashed across the front page of virtually every poker magazine, poker blog, and online news site. His story now populates other media niches – some not as praiseworthy.

Two Flags and 34 Minutes

On Monday morning, Aug. 21, attorney David Chesnoff filed a 28-page legal document with the Clark County District Court in Las Vegas on behalf of Crispin Leyser. The "Verified Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages" included an application for temporary restraint from the $12 million in WSOP championship winnings. It took only 34 minutes for Chief District Judge Kathy Hardcastle to approve the application, requiring a $1,000 security deposit, lest the defendant suffer wrongful repudiation. Just two weeks prior, several hundred pounds of crisp, cool $100 bills poured freely over the felt of the final table. Now it's destined to remain imprisoned within Rio vaults for another 15 days (until Tuesday, Sept. 5).

Common Facts

Gold and Leyser, both avid poker players, came together in July at the World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They first became acquainted in the television entertainment industry and shared other interests. Gold and Leyser discussed a possible television show venture, and Leyser claims they began to develop a relationship as a result of these conversations.

Gold described to Leyser his brand commitment to Bodog, an online poker website. Gold was required, under contract, to secure celebrities who would wear logo attire during the WSOP main event. This is a common practice by online poker rooms, as celebrities act as billboards that attract ESPN and other media, ensuring the Bodog brand is captured on film. In exchange for this service, Bodog agreed to pay Gold's entry into the WSOP $10,000 main event.

Leyser claims that Gold suggested he strike his own deal with Bodog, and says Gold also mentioned his seat might be up for grabs, since he had pressing work issues back in L.A. and may forgo playing in the main event. Leyser claims that Gold even offered to give the seat to him in exchange for a couple of celebrity billboards. This is when the alleged deal was struck, and the two agreed verbally that whoever secured the seat would share in 50 percent of the winnings.

Leyser went off in search of celebrities. He returned with B-list actor Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movies, and Dax Shepard, a comedian seen regularly on the television show Punk'd.

There was no deal struck between Bodog and Leyser.

Bodog insisted that Gold play the sponsored seat in the main event, according to their original agreement. Leyser expressed his disappointment at not being able to play and not knowing what his share of the prize pool might be. Since it was unknown until the fourth flight of the main event exactly how many players would participate, Gold could hardly muster an estimate. Leyser claims that this is when Gold assured him half of his winnings.

The $6 Million Phone Call

Gold played the main event of the WSOP, which spanned a two-week period. Gold gained a substantial chip lead early on, and on Aug. 10, he'd maintained that lead going into the final table. That morning he called Leyser and left a message on his voice mail.

"Hey, it's Jamie. Thank you for your message. I slept pretty well so we should be fine. I have a real good plan on what to do for today. Thank you for all your help. I wanted to let you know about the money. You're obviously very well-protected. Everything will be fine. But nothing's going to happen today, that's for sure. I have the best tax attorneys and the best minds in the business working for me from New York and L.A. And what we're probably going to do is set up a Nevada corporation and it's going to … I have to pay out of the corporation.I can't just pay out personally because I could get nailed. So it might take a few days, so please be patient. I promise you, you can keep this recording on my word. There's no possible way you're not going to get your half after taxes. So please just be with me. I can't imagine you're going to have a problem with it."

Gold then requested some space and privacy to allow him to focus on his game and the events of the day.

"I just don't want any stress about any money or any of that sh— going on today, or even after the end of the day. I'm sure you're going to be fine. You're going to be very well taken care of, absolutely fairly. We're just trying to handle this properly, and after now, I don't even want to talk about it or think about it. But please just trust me. You've trusted me the whole way. You can trust me a little bit more. I promise you there's no way anybody will go anywhere with your money. It's your money. All right, I send you love. Thank you for your support."

Jamie Gold beat out the other eight players at the final table and was awarded the $12 million, the coveted championship bracelet, and a Corum diamond-encrusted gold watch. The money remained at the Rio and, even before the lawsuit and restraining order, Harrah's claims Gold has made no attempt to collect. Harrah's had contacted Gold before the lawsuit was filed, and Gold explained that lawyers and accountants were working out the final details.

Leyser is demanding $6 million. Gold hasn't paid. Leyser hired legal counsel and Gold followed suit. Leyser claims the breach of their contract has caused and will continue to cause him irreparable harm. He's also stated publicly, "If Gold obtains the total sum of the winnings, I will suffer further irreparable harm." On Page 5 of the complaint, Leyser claims, "Gold is a gambler and there is the possibility that he will dispose of the funds." Leyser also accuses Gold of intentionally causing him emotional distress, and that the act was outrageously beyond reasonable and prudent decency.

Harrah's and the Rio are waiting for the courts to decide, or for the two to come to an agreement. But the cashiers at the Rio are ready to prepare "Exhibit A," Form 5754. The form is used by casinos when more than one party shares winnings. This ensures that each party accepts responsibility for taxes at the time of payout. Harrah's states that it has prepared the form for half the amount of the winnings, or $6 million minus some amenities, and Gold can collect this portion of the winnings as soon as the restraining order expires or has been lifted.

Gold responded to the lawsuit a few days after it was filed through a PR firm. See the sidebar to read Gold's statement. spade

Jamie Gold Responds
Here's Jamie Gold's response, issued by B/W/R Public Relations and his legal representatives:

Jamie Gold is disappointed that the plaintiff, a person he has only known since July of this year, has elected to file litigation rather than continue the parties' discussions in an effort to find a resolution to this matter.

Mr. Gold believes strongly in the American judicial system and believes that it is better to present his case there than to try the matter before the court of public opinion. He is pleased to have had the opportunity to participate and win the World Series of Poker and is pleased with the quality of the tournament, his outstanding opponents, and Harrah's, the event organizer.

Mr. Gold further appreciates the support of his fans and sponsor,, and hopes that this unfortunate litigation will not detract from the outstanding efforts of the entire field of participants in the World Series of Poker. spade

World Series of Poker Final-Table Participant's Home Raided

Richard Lee Investigated for Illegal Bookmaking

By Lisa Wheeler

It was 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the high-end district of Shavano Park when the news broke in San Antonio, Texas: An illegal gambling warrant had just been executed at the home of 2006 World Series of Poker sixth-place finisher Richard Lee.

That night, vice officers were inside the home taking inventory of each piece of property.

Police spokesman Joe Rios confirmed that San Antonio vice detectives had been investigating Lee, and that an Internet gambling website was being operated from the house. Rios said the website allowed people to gamble online, and that some of the proof confiscated included receipts and checks of payments paid to players.

"We're not talking $20 to $30; we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars," Rios said. "It was run like an online gambling site."

According to police, Lee was running a sportsbook site that was supposed to be based off-shore, but was actually operated in Texas. Police have been working on the case since February.

As of press time, no charges have been pressed against Lee and he has not been arrested.

When asked about the seizure proceedings, officer Rios responded: "Anytime we have that type of investigation that leads us to believe there's illegal property in the house, we have the authority to seize it."

Rios confirmed that police would be towing every vehicle while removing all personal property from the home.

"No one was arrested," said Rios, "although now that we have found the evidence, we can move forward.

"It's basically what we refer to as a bookie taking bets online and then placing those bets. He's doing that illegally here in San Antonio instead of Vegas."

Richard Lee was one of the only final-table participants not to make a sponsorship deal with an online poker site at this year's WSOP. When he was knocked out of the tournament in sixth place, he said one of the reasons he wanted to win the tournament was for San Antonio. spade

Faces That Shined During the World Series of Poker

WSOP Tournament Assistants Rise to Announce ESPN Final Tables
By Lisa Wheeler

One of the most prestigious jobs for a tournament director (TD) is announcing a televised final table at the World Series of Poker. This year, two of the faces that shined in that role started out as mere assistants.

The announcer's job is to run the game and call the action for the live audience, while staying out of view of the TV cameras. To an unknowing observer, it might appear that the director is doing a dance, shuffling back and forth while winding around a table, when actually he's being coached by ESPN crew members through an earpiece. "Step to your left" or "stand behind seat three" is a standard command given throughout filming.

Tournament Director Jack Effel was slated to call the final-table action, but Harrah's executives and ESPN realized that it would take more than one man to complete the task. Additional auditions were held, and two people rose to the challenge. Their faces will become very familiar to viewers by the end of the ESPN WSOP televised season. spade

Sam Minutello

Sam Minutello wasn't quite sure what his role should be at this year's WSOP, so he proceeded to assist other TDs in the field. Then, a few days into the featured-table schedule, TD Bob Daily began interviewing the staff for announcing positions. Minutello was technically savvy and immediately went to bat calling out the action.

The 30-year-old Minutello started his career a decade ago as a poker dealer in Florida. In 2000, he moved to Las Vegas and dealt at the Mirage. Eventually promoted to floor supervisor, he assisted with the World Poker Tour and Professional Poker Tour events there. Other gigs included the WPT in Aruba and the WSOP Tournament Circuit. And when the dust finally settled at this year's WSOP, Minutello returned to Florida to run the Tampa Bay Downs poker room.

"I completely enjoyed what I did this summer," stated Minutello about his experience at the WSOP. "It all happened so fast."

Chris Spears

Chris Spears was starting his second year with the World Series, and was assigned to work the floor. He was quickly promoted to running the non-televised events going on in the Amazon room. It took only one run at a featured final table for ESPN and Harrah's executives to take notice. Spears' charm and charisma translated well over the microphone and through the camera lenses.

It was ESPN camera director Rick Diaz who recognized Spears' potential. "Don't worry if this kid is in a hot spot," said Diaz to fellow crew members. "I think he's OK." Spears spent the rest of the Series alternating with Effel. And when the championship event reached its final nine players, Spears was being fitted for his tuxedo. He would be sharing the most prestigious role of feature-table tournament announcer with his mentor and comrade Effel.

This wasn't the first time that Spears caught the eye of tournament officials while in the field. Spears' supervisor, Charles Williams, at the Reno Hilton (now the Grand Sierra Resorts) introduced him to Jimmy Sommerfeld, a popular and respected TD on the circuit. It was during the Hilton World Poker Challenge that Sommerfeld took Spears under his wing. Sommerfeld introduced Spears to Effel, who quickly added him to the WSOP Tournament Circuit roster. Then, it was off to Las Vegas for the 2005 WSOP, where he ran the single-table satellites and nightly $540 events. There, Spears focused primarily on the technical aspects of tournament poker. Following training, he was assigned to Tunica, where he led the second-chance events. After a year on the Circuit, it was only natural that he would land a position at this year's World Series in Las Vegas. But Spears never imagined it would lead him to the final table of the championship.

"This was a real honor," said the humble Spears. "But if it weren't for the support and efforts of people like Jimmy, Jack, and Charles, I wouldn't even be here."

Congratulations to Sam Minutello and Chris Spears for a job well done at this year's WSOP final tables. After 40 days of providing players and spectators with first-class direction and entertainment, these two are well-suited for calling out feature-table action in the future. spade

Successful World Series of Poker Boosts Casino Profits at Rio

Table-Game Performance Outpaces Strip Properties
By Michael Friedman

During the 37th-annual World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Harrah's experienced a strong performance from its Rio property as a whole. In addition to having the biggest draw for poker players for more than a month, the Rio also became the hot spot for table games.

According to Majestic Research, an independent firm that uses proprietary data to forecast company revenue, the Rio saw increases on all sides. Poker action increased from 22.3 percent of total Strip poker action last year to 30.9 percent this year. The casino also saw table-game usage increase by 4 percent, while that at Strip properties declined 3 percent.

Harrah's has banked heavily on the WSOP's future success, investing roughly $42.7 million in 2004 for the rights to the WSOP brand and use of the Horseshoe brand in Nevada. If the record-breaking success of this year's WSOP is any indication, it looks as though Harrah's business foresight is going to pay off in spades.

Traditionally, most non-WSOP poker action is found at Bellagio. According to Majestic Research, Bellagio captured 14 percent of the poker action on the Las Vegas Strip. Wynn Las Vegas and the Mirage both draw roughly 11 percent of the total Strip action during the year. Harrah's Caesars Palace is also looking to make a strong showing with its expanded poker room that is currently attracting 8 percent of the action. spade

Aussie Millions Poker Qualifiers Running at FullTilt

Site Offers Plenty of Ways to Get Down Under

By Bob Pajich

Kangaroos are cool, and so are dingoes, koala bears, and didgeridoos, and if some online players play their cards right, they're going to be surrounded by all things Australian this coming January when the 2007 Aussies Millions Championship (AMC) takes place.

FullTiltPoker started running qualifiers to the AMC in mid-August, and the $18,000 prize package is one of the best in the business. Qualifiers win a 10-night stay at the Crown Casino Resort, entry in the $10,000 buy-in tournament, $3,000 spending money, and round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

The trip is from Jan. 8 to Jan. 20, with the six-day main event starting on Sunday, Jan. 14.

As it did for the World Series of Poker, FullTiltPoker is providing a tournament qualifying system that is designed not only to meet every poker player's bankroll need, but is simple to use and follow.

Cash qualifiers take place every day, and qualifiers in which prize packages are won take place both weekly and monthly. The cherry on this sundae is a 20-seat-guaranteed tournament that's scheduled to take place on Dec. 10. Players can buy into it directly for $535, or follow the qualifying path to win a seat for much less. Players can even get into this tournament for as little as $4.40, or for free, by cashing in 50 FullTilt Points and winning their way in through freerolls.

28 Seats for Free

As a bonus, FullTiltPoker is also holding monthly freerolls from September to December, in which seven packages will be given away in each one. Free tournaments to get into the monthly freeroll take place daily.

All players who earn 10,000 or more FullTilt Points in the qualifying month also receive an entry into the monthly freeroll. The top 50 Aussie Millions point earners (points are earned by playing in the single-table and multitable qualifiers) also earn an entry.

Players can also cash in large amounts of their FullTilt Points to get into cash freerolls or the 20-seat-guaranteed tourney in December. Download the software and click around to better learn the landscape.

Cash Path

AMC qualifiers that cost $322 take place at least twice a week. Players can buy in directly or follow the satellite path. Direct multitable qualifiers cost $8.80, $26, and $75, and the sit-and-go qualifier costs $44. As many $18,000 packages will be given away in each $322 qualifier as possible.

Each week, at least one $1,060 direct qualifier to the AMC will take place, and like all of the higher-cost tournaments at FullTiltPoker, there are many ways to get into them for much less. Players can directly buy into multitable qualifiers that cost $26, $75, and $109, and also sit-and-go qualifiers that cost $75 and $160.

As usual, players can also follow the qualifying path to win their way in for as little as $4.40. FullTiltPoker also offers a FullTiltPoker Points path into the Monday $1,000 AMC qualifiers.

And finally, in December, the $535 Aussie Millions 20-seat-guaranteed tournament will take place. Like the other qualifiers, players can either buy directly into this tournament or follow its satellite path. Multitable qualifiers into the $535 tourney cost $8.80, $26, and $75. Players can also play a $75 sit-and-go into this tourney. Of course, players can play in tournaments for less than the cost of these qualifiers to try to get in more cheaply. Qualifiers take place around-the-clock, which is about as long as it takes to fly to Melbourne from most of the world, something many FullTiltPoker players are going to learn in January. Last year, Lee Nelson outlasted 419 players to win $698,700. Like last year, the event will be held at the Crown Casino Resort. spade

After a Year, Biloxi Casinos Start Coming Back

Eight Casinos Now Open

By Bob Pajich

It took a year, but Biloxi, Mississippi, is starting to resemble the gambling jewel of the South that it was before Hurricane Katrina changed everything and closed all 12 casinos in August of 2005.

Half of the casinos that were destroyed have been reopened, and by the time October comes, nine casinos will be open in the Biloxi area, with several more scheduled to open within the year.

Palace Casino Resort, Imperial Palace, Grand Biloxi, Isle of Capri, Beau Rivage, Boomtown, Treasure Bay, and Hollywood Casino (formerly Casino Magic) are now open (some of these casinos were open within four months of the storm).

Copa Gulfport is scheduled to reopen as Island View Resort on Sept. 18. For the time being, the casino will operate out of the rebuilt hotel. The new casino will eventually sit on the former Harrah's Grand Casino Gulfport property.

Other casinos have had a harder time of it. Hard Rock Casino, which celebrated its grand opening only a few days before Katrina came ashore, remains closed. It will reopen sometime next year. The President Casino and Grand Casino Gulfport will not reopen.

The Silver Slipper is scheduled to reopen sometime this fall, and the Bacaran Bay Casino Resort, an all-suite hotel and condominium complex located on the Gulf Coast in Biloxi, will open sometime in 2008.

The devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to Biloxi was beamed around the world, and the pictures of casino barges washed ashore, crushing homes and businesses, showed just how serious the storm was.

The storm also helped the casino industry persuade lawmakers to allow its casinos to be built on solid land. Before the hurricane, casinos had to float, even though they weren't designed to go anywhere. Now, the new and rebuilt casinos can be placed on solid land, but are still restricted to being near the water.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has the third-most casinos in the country, after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. spade

Poker Software Company Reports Outstanding Profits

Profits Generated From Playtech's Poker Software Up 851 Percent

By Bob Pajich

Internet gaming software company Playtech reported a sharp rise in its online poker-generated revenues during the first six months of this year. Compared to last year, poker revenues were up 851 percent. Last year, approximately $500,000 was generated by its poker software; this year, it's about $4.8 million.

Playtech provides software for the iPoker network, which includes Titan and Noble poker. It also provides many versions of casino and bingo game software to 42 operators (including poker sites). It floated its stock on the London Stock Exchange in March of this year and is valued at about $984 million. The company is located on the Isle of Man.

Its total revenues are up 139 percent to $46.2 million, and its adjusted net profit for the first six months of the year is up 172 percent to $37.3 million. Last year, the profit was a little less than $14 million. Its revenues from casino game software are up 129 percent to $40.4 million.

The company claims that the recent maneuvering by politicians to try to stop Internet gaming has had no effect on Playtech's performance, because Playtech is not an operator and it has also worked to forge into more international markets, particularly Asia. It also doesn't provide software for sportsbook sites, which the government has historically targeted.

Playtech has also added seven new licensees to its stable this year, three of which were game sites already established in Europe and Asia. The company's goal is to be the "leading software solution company to the international online gaming market," according to the report.

The board has plans to continually develop market-leading solutions for its licensees, to enable them to increase their revenues, to supply a global software solution that is tailored to specific markets, to enhance cross-selling opportunities using the unified system philosophy, and to continue worldwide expansion.

In order to ensure that the company has quality employees to implement its plan, Playtech established Playtech Academy, its own computer science academy based in Tartu, Estonia. Currently, 40 students are enrolled in the IT classes. Some of them will surely staff the new development center the company is opening in Bulgaria. spade

PartyPoker Monster is Starting to Roar

More Than $16 Million Will Be Given Away in Next Eight Months

By Bob Pajich

Recently, a baby monster hatched somewhere deep in the computer banks at By the time May gets here, it will be a gigantic, hulking beast, carrying on its back a satchel of money that thousands of people will have eventually helped stuff.

It's name is Party Monster, and it has already been unleashed in the poker world. Party Monster is the name of an eight-month series of freerolls and qualifiers that climaxes with the Monster Grand Final, which has a prize pool already seeded with $5 million. And the prize pool will grow larger every time someone tries to qualify for Party Monster events.

The next 30 weeks are packed with chances for players to both qualify for the big one and to win shares of large prize pools in weekly and monthly tournaments.

Each week for the next 30 weeks, a $100,000 freeroll will be played, and each month until the end of April, a $1 million freeroll will be held. The tournaments will be figurative monsters, with thousands of players in each one, but PartyPoker estimates that at least 40,000 players will come away from this massive promotion with cash when it's all said and done.

PartyPoker already held two $100,000 weekly freerolls. The top 1,000 players from each weekly freeroll get paid at least $40. The winner receives $12,500. The top 2,000 players of each weekly tournament qualify for the $1 million monthly freeroll.

The $1 million monthly freerolls have a similar structure. The top 1,000 players from each of the eight monthly tournaments qualify for the Monster Grand Final, and they also are guaranteed at least $400. The winner of the monthly $1 million freeroll takes home $125,000 and everyone who makes the final table wins at least $2,500.

Get In

There are four different ways to get into the weekly tournaments: win one of the sit-and-go tourneys that are running around-the-clock, finish in the top three of the scheduled multitable tourneys, be one of the site's top PartyPoker points earners, or happen to be at a Party Monster jackpot table when a jackpot is hit.

The single-table tourneys start as low as $6. The winners of these $6 sit-and-goes only receive entry into the weekly tourney. The winners of the more expensive sit-and-gos also receive cash prizes, as do second- and third-place finishers, but about $50 from each tourney (including the $6 qualifiers) ends up in the Monster Grand Final prize pool.

An even larger portion of the pots generated by multitable qualifiers go toward the big final tournament prize pool. The top three finishers of each multitable qualifier – buy-ins range from $6 to $33 – get an entry into the weekly tourney, and depending on the buy-in, a percentage of the pot goes to the Monster Grand Final prize pool. For example, in a $6 buy-in qualifier, 70 percent of the prize pool goes back to the participants, while in the $33 buy-in qualifiers, 95 percent goes back to the participants. The rest of the cash feeds the monster. More information about the structure and qualifiers can be found at

The Final

The Monster Grand Final will be held on May 26, 2007. Play will go on until only six players are left. Those six players will then be flown to Rio de Janeiro to play until a winner is determined in front of TV cameras on June 16.

Warren Lush, PartyPoker's spokesman, had this to say about the monster: "We have seeded the first $5 million of prize money, but that is only the beginning. The prizes start huge and then just get bigger and bigger; the more people who play, the bigger the Grand Final prize pool will be – the biggest in history." spade

195 Show Up for Paddy Power Strip Poker

John Young Wins, but Bares All Anyway

By Bob Pajich

John Young recently won the world's largest strip poker tournament. Young, of Slough, London, beat out 194 other hopefuls at the Paddy Power World Strip Poker Championship that was held at London's Cafe Royal. He walked away with £10,000, a specially commissioned Golden Fig Leaf trophy, and entry in the Paddy Power Irish Open, where up to £2 million will be up for grabs.

In addition, Paddy Power promised to donate an additional £10,000 to the charity of the winner's choice, Cancer Research, if Young, who was the last player to have any clothes, revealed all to the crowd – and he did.

The tournament kicked off when 195 hopefuls from more than 12 countries set out to keep their clothes on and carve themselves a place in history as part of a new official Guinness world record for the biggest strip poker tournament ever.

The event originally had been an April Fools' Day story by Paddy Power earlier this year, but after receiving requests from people all over the world to take part, the bookie decided to run the tournament for real.

Each player was given five items of clothing, which they used to buy chips. As they lost their chips, they cashed in their clothes for more. Some even opted to strip from the bottom up, and sat playing naked except for a cap. The tournament was so successful and generated so much worldwide buzz for the online gaming site that it may become an annual event. spade

Daniel Negreanu Looking for Another Protégé

Tournaments Now Running at FullContactPoker

By Bob Pajich

Daniel Negreanu is looking for another protégé.

His first protégé, Brian Fidler, has already had some success on the tournament trail, finishing second in the World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit event at Harrah's Lake Tahoe in June after he won the position of Negreanu's protégé in a promotion offered by Negreanu's FullContactPoker website.

Now, Negreanu's looking for someone else to mentor, and the next five months at FullContactPoker are filled with chances to lock up one of the nine remaining seats in the single-table tournament that will determine who will be Negreanu's next protégé.

The winner will receive four months of mentoring from Negreanu, four $10,000 buy-ins to major tournaments (FCP will pay for travel expenses), a watch valued at $2,000, introduction into the FullContactPoker Hall of Fame, and as a bonus, if the protégé wins any of the tournaments in which he's entered, he will be given an opportunity to sign with Poker Royalty, an agency that represents some of the world's top poker players.

There are still nine different ways to lock up one of the remaining seats. The first seat has already been won by Michael Giardina, who won the drawing that took place at the Gaming Life Expo, which was held in conjunction with the World Series of Poker main event.

The rest of the seats will be given away through freerolls, tournaments made up of leader board leaders, tournaments made up of charter members, and so forth. Each of the remaining nine seats will be given away in a different manner, through different types of tournaments.

One of the seats will even be won by a player participating in weekly free bar tournaments in Canada, sponsored by a company called the Red Hot Poker Tour. Players standing on top of area leader boards will play for the seat later this year.

More details about the different ways to qualify can be found at

The tournament to determine Negreanu's next protégé will take place either in December or early next year. spade

First 'Final Four' Participant Determined in Poker Superstars III

Antonio Esfandiari Moves On to the Semifinals

By Bob Pajich

Poker Superstars III, shown on FoxSportsNet each Sunday at 8 p.m. local time, is getting tighter.

Recently, FSN showed the final three players of the "Super 16" who were still standing to battle for the final seat in the round of eight. It was a table of powerhouses: Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Carlos Mortensen each had to win, or their tournament run was over – and Mortensen emerged victorious.

He joined Johnny Chan, Todd Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Gus Hansen, Mike Matusow, Card Player COO Jeff Shulman, and Freddy Deeb in the quarterfinal round. They each won $15,000 for advancing.

Last week, FSN aired the first quarterfinal match between Deeb, Chan, Mortensen, and Esfandiari. The "Magician," who entered the round of 16 as the No. 2 seed, again advanced, and is the first player to make the Final Four. He pocketed $30,000 for his victory.

Next week, the match between Deeb, Mortensen, and Chan will be shown. Just as like in previous weeks, the only person to advance will be the winner. The second table of four players will begin play in two weeks.

Visit to view Internet coverage of this TV series. spade

World Championship of Online Poker

WCOOP in Progress at

By Michael Friedman

Online poker has seen a windfall of popularity, and despite legal questions swirling around the industry, online poker continues to find enthusiasm from players around the world. Proof positive that online poker is here to stay comes with the fifth-annual World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and its guaranteed prize pool of $10 million.

The WCOOP, currently in progress through Oct. 1, provides poker for all types of players. Starting with the $200 buy-in razz (seven-card stud low) event and climaxing with the $2,500 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament and its guaranteed prize pool of $3 million, the tournament has a little something for everyone. The final event, which takes place on Oct. 1, is set to be the single richest event in online poker.

In a novel twist to the tournament series, this year will also see the introduction of H.O.R.S.E., a tournament that features a series of rotating games that include hold'em, Omaha eight-or-better, razz, stud, and stud eight-or-better. Hosting this prestigious event is player representative Barry Greenstein.

Known to many as the "Robin Hood of Poker," for his big heart and large donations to charity, Greenstein is also known for his poker skills, especially in the "big game" in Las Vegas, where mixed games are often played. The H.O.R.S.E. event features a $5,000 buy-in, by far the largest of the tournament series, and should attract many of the world's best players, live or online.

According to Greenstein, the tournament series is a big deal for many online players. "Prestigious tournaments such as the World Championship of Online Poker are the ultimate way to improve your game and experience the excitement of big tournament play," Greenstein said in a recent press release.

If last year's numbers are any indication of this year's attendance, expect a colossal turnout. Last year's series attracted 19,727 players and generated a prize pool of more than $12.7 million. spade

Shannon Shorr

Duke of Hazards

By Craig Tapscott

Don't let Shannon Shorr's soft-spoken Southern charm fool you for one dang second. This Alabama native will accelerate action preflop, maneuver around the curves of a hazardous flop, and intuitively slam on the brakes or go pedal to the metal on the turn or river. The kid's got game.

Shorr had yet to turn 21 when he ventured down under in January of this year to compete in the Aussie Millions. His bold play was rewarded with a fourth-place finish for a cool $203,000. After turning 21 in June, Shorr competed in 22 events at the World Series of Poker with disappointing results: He had only two minor cashes, but this was no indication of the days to come.

Simultaneous to the WSOP, Bellagio held a series of tournaments called the Bellagio Cup II. Shorr would soon claim the luxurious casino as his home turf, and deservedly so. He would cash in four Bellagio Cup events and win two, including the $10,000 main event, taking home more than $1 million.

These fortuitous results led to Shorr postponing his return to the University of Alabama, where he was a civil engineering student. "I'm going to play a full schedule," he explained. "It's going to be hard to catch Mizrachi; I'll have to final table two events at least. I'm going to play as many events as possible and give myself a shot at it. I may never be this close again."

I caught up with Shorr recently at the Legends of Poker tournament at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

Craig Tapscott: When were you first introduced to poker?

Shannon Shorr: During the big Chris Moneymaker boom. I started playing $5 home games. Soon, I started moving up in stakes from there and made my first online deposit. I was actually a losing online player for about eight months, but then I turned it around and haven't looked back.

CT: What turned it around for you?

SS: It was eight months of experience of learning how to play against opponents online. I've never really read strategy books.

CT: When did you think you could compete with the top online players?

SS: When I started playing stakes that I could really make a living from. For me it was the $215 sit-and-gos and beating that game pretty badly. I realized that if I could master the concept of sit-and-gos, why couldn't I master the concept of any type of poker? That was the turning point for me.

CT: What's your personality at the table?

SS: I'm rather quiet at the table and not very flashy. I'm a big advocate of respecting the game, not berating players, or ever going crazy when I win or lose a hand. I'm constantly picking up on stuff when people talk in a hand, so it makes me think that if I talk, I might be giving away something.

CT: Any suggestions on the transition from online to live play?

SS: You have to study the opponents. There will be online players in the live events who will be so bored because they can't 12-table, and they just go off in their own world. You have to exploit their weaknesses.

CT: What's your strategy for beating huge fields?

SS: I'm all about building a stack and wielding that big stack all the way through, to put pressure on people. There are players who will sit and just blind off for the first five or six hours. You have to give yourself the opportunity to flop two pair against aces or something similar. Put some money in the pot. If you play so robotic that you're going to fold to every reraise, it's just not going to work. You have to take some chances.

CT: How did your parents react to your decision to delay school?

SS: I'm very lucky. I've got very supportive parents, and family in general. It's pretty ironic, as I'm from conservative Alabama. I know guys who hide it from their parents if they play. My parents think I'm a smart kid, and I've put a lot of thought into this decision.

CT: Any advice for up-and-coming young players?

SS: First, you need to be extremely conservative with your bankroll. I learned that the hard way. It's extremely important, especially if you're playing for a living. Second, stay focused. Third, have fun, and don't play above your head.

Shannon Shorr's a hazard to any opponent in his way. He possesses a level head, a thirst to learn, a gentleman's demeanor, and a sacred respect for the game that will serve him well. The kid's got a future. spade

Poker and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By David Apostolico

In Robert M. Pirsig's classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, there is an interesting passage in which the narrator "divide[s] human understanding into two kinds – classical understanding and romantic understanding." The narrator goes on to describe in detail the differences between the two ways of thought. To paraphrase, the classic mode relies on reason and laws and looks at the underlying form. The romantic mode is more creative and intuitive and sees things based on immediate appearance. The narrator offers an illustration by alluding to riding a motorcycle as romantic, while repairing a motorcycle is classic. The classic thinker relishes getting down and dirty with the grease and grime. The romantic sees a beautiful bike and wants to ride it.

What does any of this have to do with poker? Let's find out by taking a look at how each mode of thinker would approach the game. A romantic will shoot from the hip and go with his gut. He'll fall in love with his cards and pay little or no attention to such messy underlying details as pot odds or outs. The classic thinker, on the other hand, will play by the book, figuring out percentages for every holding. He'll give little or no thought to the mindset of his opponents. On it's face, neither one of these approaches seems ideal. In fact, they both seem like a recipe for failure.

Fortunately, I'm willing to bet that the majority of us tend to possess the ability to think in both of these fashions, and we can implement both modes depending on the circumstances. Even so, I'm also going to venture that most of us tend to favor one mode over the other. If we know which mode we favor, we can probably improve our game by learning to tap into the other mode more often. Let's take a look at a hypothetical no-limit hold'em hand to help you determine which way you lean.

Everyone folds to you in the cutoff seat, and you decide to raise three times the big blind with J-10 suited and you get called by the big blind. You know the big blind fairly well, and know that he likes to play a lot of hands and that he is also prone to defending his big blind. The flop comes A-7-2 with two of your suit. The big blind bets two times the pot size. What is your immediate reaction? Was it along the lines of, "I have a flush draw and I'm playing it no matter what," or did you start calculating outs and implied pot odds. Granted, you need more information than I gave you to make a decision, but this column is not about how to play this hand. It's about looking inside yourself to find how you tend to think when you're at the table.

Now, most of you are probably thinking your reaction did not fit neatly into either of the two characterizations above. Rather, you recognize that the correct decision requires knowing more about your opponent's likely holdings and how he'll play out the hand, how big his stack is, how big your stack is, and what your implied pot odds are. But be honest with yourself and try to ascertain which way your very first reaction leaned. If the flush draw excited you, you probably lean toward the romantic. If you started doing calculations in your head with no emotional attachment to the flush possibility, you probably lean toward the classic.

For the classic thinkers, ask yourself if you find yourself measuring every hand in mathematical terms. If so, try going from the gut once in a while by attacking weakness when you sense it. The math is probably so ingrained in your subconscious that you'll naturally consider it anyway. There's just no need to try to prove every situation before acting. If you're a romantic, try to detach yourself emotionally from your hands and don't fall in love with your cards. Spend some time thinking through each situation. Don't ignore your instincts, but temper them with an understanding of what you purport to gain or lose with every move. Strive to find the perfect balance between classic and romantic thought. Once you achieve that, size up your opponents and determine which way each of them leans so that you can exploit it to your advantage. spade

David Apostolico is the author of Lessons From the Pro Poker Tour, Tournament Poker and the Art of War, and Machiavellian Poker Strategy. You can e-mail him at

Ask Jack

Want to know how a multimillion-dollar poker tournament is run? Have a question about a specific tournament poker rule or past ruling you've encountered?

Card Player is giving you the chance to pick the mind of one of the game's finest – Bellagio Tournament Director Jack McClelland. You can send your questions to, and McClelland will share his 25-plus years of industry experience with you.

Bob: I was a big fan of the World Series of Poker tournament when I was a kid watching Amarillo Slim on ABC Sports back in the '70s. I started running an annual poker tournament (40-50 players) for friends and family about 10 years ago. My original plan was for it to be a no-limit hold'em tournament, but back then, hardly anyone had even heard of the game, let alone know how to play it. So, I made my tournaments seven-card stud. I am happy to say that with the game's recent popularity, I was able to switch to no-limit hold'em about four or five years ago.

The problem I am having as the tournament director (and participant) is that more and more problems occur during the night that I don't know how to correctly handle. In the past, I have relied on my common sense and logic to handle a problem, but I am sure that my judgment was incorrect on several occasions.

I have many questions that could be easily answered if I had a book to reference. Is there a book available on how to run a tournament that you highly recommend? If not, here are a few of my many questions:

What is the proper procedure for moving players to another table? (I try to move players based on where the blinds are for both tables, but players sometimes think it should be the random draw of cards.)

When is it a misdeal and how do you handle misdeals (especially with the burn cards being exposed or not burned)?

What is the proper way to seat players at the final table? Is it via random draw or are they seated strategically based upon chip counts?

What is the best way to handle disagreements between another player and myself (a participant) when I am also the tournament director?

Jack McClelland:

1. When moving a player to a shorthanded table, I take the next full table to break and move the player who will be in the big blind the next hand to the worst possible position at the shorthanded table. That way, the worst thing that can happen to the moving player is that he is in the big blind, where he would have been anyway, and sometimes he gains several positions. If that happens, it's OK, because the new player moving in already is at a disadvantage.

2. On a misdeal, if any of the first two cards flip up, the blinds start over. Otherwise, turn up the exposed card and give it to the player, complete the deal, and then replace the exposed card with the burn card. If two cards are exposed, start over.

3. The final table is a complete random draw, and the dealer high-cards for the button.

4. The best way is to never play in tournaments that you are running. If you do, you must be prepared to graciously take the worst of most decisions.

Andrew Mitchell: I am wondering what type of education and training I should begin to focus on if I were interested in working toward a position as a tournament manager.

To help you better answer my question, I will give you a little context about myself.

I am a 20-year-old college student, currently taking classes at a Maryland community college. I am looking to transfer to the University of Maryland in one semester. I have been playing poker since I was 16. During the few years I have played, I have enjoyed pulling together tournaments as much as I have enjoyed playing in them. Poker gave me a great social outlet during high school, and I found the confidence to speak to and organize people I'd never ask for the time of day.

I've got two more years of undergraduate work ahead of me, possibly three. How should I steer myself in terms of education and internships in order to learn about and get a flavor for what it is like to be the tournament director of a major tournament?

Jack McClelland:
Take classes on public speaking, psychology, anger management, and math. Also, classes in business administration and scheduling would help. Get a job in a cardroom and learn all the positions of the employees in live games and tournaments. Being able to adjust and think on your feet while applying common sense and logic to your decisions is crucial.

Jeff Stevenson: I am part of a group of poker players in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who get together for a fun, but competitive, $30 plus $5 no-limit hold'em tournament in a local casino every Sunday. There has been discussion of making the blinds structure and starting chips more player-friendly, while meeting the conditions set by the casino.

Please recommend the ideal blinds structure (with and without antes) and starting chips with the following conditions in mind: Maximum time limit of four and a half to five hours and a player cap set at 60, but occasionally bumped to 70 upon the casino's approval.

Jack McClelland: Players start with $5,000 in chips and play 20 minute rounds: level 1, $25-$50 blinds; level 2, $50-$100; level 3, $100-$200; level 4, $25 ante, $100-$200; level 5, $25 ante, $200-$400; level 6, $50 ante, $300-$600; level 7, $75 ante, $400-$800; level 8, $100 ante, $600-$1,200; level 9, $200 ante, $800-$1,600; level 10, $300 ante, $1,000-$2,000; level 11, $500 ante, $1,500-$3,000; level 12, $500 ante, $2,000-$4,000; level 13, $1,000 ante, $3,000-$6,000. With 70 players, most times the tournament will end around level 11. spade

I was wondering if you could settle a dispute between a buddy and me on how I recently played a hand. I play mainly $1-$2 no-limit hold'em, and in a recent game, I was faced with a decision that I believe I handled correctly, but my buddy thinks I made a mistake.

My starting hand was A-3 suited and I simply called the big blind, as did everyone else at the table (family pot). Nothing significant came out on the flop, but I did have a flush draw. The first person (Player A) bet $10, I called, and another player (Player C) called. On the turn, the 4heart came, which paired the board. Player A checked, I checked, and Player C bet $10. Player A called, and I called. The river produced a spade to complete my nut flush, and to my surprise, Player A led out with a $45 bet. As I stacked my chips deciding whether to raise, and if so, how much to raise, I heard Player A (the bettor) say to the person next to him, "My hand is no good." I then looked over to Player C and noticed that he was stacking his $45 to call.

So, here is where I think I made the right decision, and my buddy thinks I made the wrong decision. I simply called the $45 because I was sure that Player C was going to call, and I was pretty sure that if I raised, Player A would fold. My biggest concern was that if I did indeed raise, Player C might not call.

In the end, Player A had a straight and Player C had a set of fours. So, did I make the right decision by getting the extra call and not